My sister-in-law is an urban sophisticate, and loves exploring the world’s cities in style. So when she set off on an all-inclusive package holiday to Ibiza this summer – with flip-flops, bucket and spade – it wasn’t exactly her ideal break. But her two primary-school age children had the time of their lives.
It made me wonder whether parents really do need to give up the city breaks they love. So I’ve done some digging, and come up with these ideas for city destinations that appeal to kids, too.
For budding foodies
Whether your children love to cook or just love to eat, it’s hard to go past Rome or Venice for a food-centric break. Little Masterchefs can experiment with local flavours. (Foodie kids will especially love risi e bisi – a risotto with fresh peas that’s a spring speciality of Venice – and the capital’s cheesy, buttery gnocchi alla Romana). And, as you’ll never be far from a pizzeria or gelateria, fussy eaters will be satisfied, too. Food is at the heart of family life in Italy, so its restaurants tend to be family-friendly.
More for kids: Travelling on Venice’s canals is fun for all ages, but when the city gets too much, head a little south to the beach resort of Lido. In Rome, the whole family will get a giggle from the costumed gladiators outside the Colosseum, while the Planetario is perfect for little star-gazers.
For mini explorers
Ancient Egypt is fascinating to young adventurers and history buffs alike. Choose Cairo for pyramids and the royal mummies of the Egyptian Museum, or Luxor for the ancient tombs of the Valley of the Kings. Visit in spring or autumn to avoid the trying heat of summer.
More for kids: If you’re thinking of a Nile trip, ditch the boredom of adult-focused cruises and travel by felucca – a traditional wooden sailing boat. Camel rides are also a great diversion.
If your kids love the water, consider Sharm el Sheikh . Not terribly urban actually, but there’s plenty of swimming, snorkelling and diving opportunities there for the family, and you can buy flights from Sharm el Sheikh to Cairo with relative ease.
For little nature lovers
Even David Attenborough’s prolific output hardly satisfies the curiosity about nature that grips kids of a certain age. But you needn’t take to the wilderness to feed this fascination – city museums, zoos and aquariums offer hours of absorption. In Valencia you’ll find the Bioparc – a zoo without bars, where African animals live in natural habitats, separated from visitors by wetlands and glass walls. In Berlin, the AquaDom & Sea Life Centre is particularly pitched at kids, and boasts around 4,000 marine creatures.
More for kids: Berlin’s many kid-friendly attractions include the vast Kindercity play centre, Legoland Discovery Centre and Magic Mountain climbing centre.